Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sworn to Conflict Book Blitz

SWORN TO CONFLICT, the third book in Terah Edun’s young adult fantasy COURTLIGHT series, will be released this December 6! Not familiar with the series? Check all three books in here and get a chance to win awesome prizes!

Sworn to Conflict (Courtlight #3)
Title: Sworn to Conflict (Courtlight #3)
Author: Terah Edun
Date of Publication: December 6, 2013
Ciardis Weathervane fought for the living dead and won. But worse than taking on a mass murderer, was her discovery that she had been deceived by her friends. Now she needs to not only fight a war in the North and survive, but also decide where she stands in the midst of competing sides.
A threat to all she holds dear lies in the North and her heart is not the only thing she might lose. A massive army awaits in the mountain pass, surging closer to the gates of the southern lands. Nothing the Algardis army has done so far has dissuaded their march forward and Ciardis finds out that her powers to enhance are needed now more than ever.
As she faces her greatest fears on the battlefields and her heart is torn between her love of Sebastian and loyalty to her family, Ciardis must choose her fate carefully. For in her path, lies the destiny of the empire.
This third novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Transfer.
For those new with the series (you can catch up now!), here are the blurbs for the first two books.
Sworn to Raise (Courtlight #1)
Title: Sworn to Raise (Courtlight #1)
Author: Terah Edun
Date of Publication: April 10, 2013
Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the empire. But beneath her empire’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.
Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.
But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.
This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.
Purchase from Amazon | B&N
Sworn To Transfer (Courtlight #2)
Title: Sworn to Transfer (Courtlight #2)
Author: Terah Edun
Date of Publication: September 17, 2013
Eighteen-year-old companion trainee Ciardis Weathervane has won the friendship of the royal heir and saved his claim to the throne. Yet her interference in the inheritance rights leaves more harm done than good. The Ameles Forest lies unprotected and its inhabitants are dying.
As humans begin to die in gruesome deaths, the Emperor dispatches the royal heir to the forests with the solution to the kith concerns.
With enemies closing ranks in Sandrin, Ciardis can little afford to leave the city’s nest of vipers to take on a new task. But she’s given no choice when her loyalty to the crown and courts are called into question.
To keep the Companions’ Guild happy and the favor of the Imperial Court, Ciardis will be tested in frightening new ways, especially when she’s faced with an obstacle that could risk the lives of her friends and the family she never thought she had.
This second novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Raise.
Purchase from Amazon | B&N
About Terah Edun
Terah Edun is a young adult fantasy writer born and raised in the Atlanta metropolitan area, who transplanted to the Northeast region for college, and has spent years living abroad in South Sudan and Morocco. She writes the stories that she always loved to read as a young girl.
She prefers tales of adventure, magic, fellowship and courtship – in other words high fantasy. But she’s not adverse to the occasional contemporary fantasy coming her way. Sometimes you’ll see cloaks, daggers, independent and strong girls, independent and strong guys, sweet and soft spoken girls, sweet and soft spoken guys, sparkly magic and irritatingly know-it-all boys. The book she’s currently working on is SWORN TO SECRECY, the fourth in the Courtlight series.
Outside of writing, she’s a international development professional with a penchant for Starbucks.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fanged Outcast by Elisabeth Wheatley

While you'll hardly see me reading vampire books, I really really like Fanged Outcast. Some time back, I reviewed Fang Princess (link leads to review) and I thought it was good. So, when I was given the opportunity to review Fanged Outcast, I took it.

And I do not regret it.

My only wish is that the book is longer. In this book, Hadassah is still protecting her brother and his human girlfriend. This time, they're living with a bunch of vampire hunters. But you know, you take whatever protection you can get. But with her dad, the Vampire King (of a certain area anyway) after them, something is bound to go wrong. And it does -  her brother is kidnapped and Hadassah has to go and rescue her little brother.

For me, the star of this book was clearly Hadassah. She's a very protective older sister, something I can identify with, and even though she doesn't seem to like her brother's girlfriend very much, she's very committed to protecting her. I really admire her loyalty to her family.

And speaking of family, Hadassah's family is really really messed up. I won't give spoilers, but you should know that a fairly huge plot twist revolves around one member of her family. I didn't really see it coming, but it definitely made the book a lot more exciting.

Fanged Outcast was released yesterday, which means that you can get it now. If you're a fan of vampire YA books, you should definitely read this series.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dragon's Breath by E.D. Baker

Now it's Book 2 of The Tales of the Frog Princess. It's starting to separate from the original tale of The Frog Prince, and growing legs to become an independent story.

In the sequel, Emma and Eadric are back into Princess and Prince. But, the Green Witch, or her aunt Grassina isn't fulfilling her duties because she's looking for her love, Haywood, whom she found has been turned into an otter. Of course, a neighbouring kingdom finds this the best time to attack, so Emma and Eadric meddle around trying to help. And of course, since the title is called Dragon's Breath, dragons are involved.

I really really loved this book! There are many things to love, such as the relationship between Emma and Eadric. The way the two of them develop their relationship without rushing into it makes it very sweet and very very real. Plus, I like how the two of them are friends first and lovers second.

Another thing would be the cast of supporting characters. One of my favourite was Lil, this adorable bat. She was introduced in the first book, but I think that she has a bigger role in this book.

If you're liked The Frog Princess, you'll definitely love this book. I recommend reading the series in order because this is a very well-written world, full of lovable characters.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Confessions of a Hostie by Danielle High

This was an extremely light-hearted book that I finished in two days. Like the title says, it's a real-life account of what it's like to be a flight attendant (loosely given narrative form with a sense of time), although partly fictionalised to make sure that the writer doesn't lose it's job.

And when the title gives away more or less what the whole book is about, I guess the only thing that people want to know is: is this book worth reading? My answer is yes.

I've always thought that flight attendants had a really cool job, and before I read this book, I thought it was glamorous. While I never wanted to be a flight attendant (which is a good thing, because I do not meet the minimum height requirements to be a SIA girl), I had a friend who at one point of her life decided that the best way to meet her husband was to become a SIA flight attendant.

But apart from that, I've always had fond memories of flying. Then again, when you've celebrated your birthday on board, and got petted because you were wearing a miniature version of the uniform, I guess it's pretty hard not to have fond memories.

This book, on the other hand, made me respect the profession even more. It showed me how hard the profession could be, and the kinds of terrible passengers that appear on planes. Sometimes, the situations caused by the passengers are down-right life-threatening.

One last thing that I appreciated, and which is pretty much unrelated to the writing or content of the book, is how the first chapter starts with the author flying to Singapore. It makes sense, considering that Changi airport is awesome and a fairly major hub (I think), and the scenes set in Singapore made me laugh and feel nostalgic.

Hey - that should be the next topic for the next big novel about Singapore. Someone write about the SIA girl!

Disclaimer: I got this book from the publisher via NetGalley for free in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On Yet Another Trip

Hey everyone! I don't have a review to share today, instead, I have a small announcement.

I'll be taking today, Thursday and Friday off as I get ready to go to Tokyo! I'll be going back to see my friends and seniors, so I'm really, really excited.

But don't despair, I'll be back by Monday(;

Wheeee plane rides! I hope I get to see Mount Fuji from my seat! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Elmo by Matt Shea

Elmo is not the character from Sesame Street. Far from it. Elmo is the name of a panhandler - a homeless, jobless guy begging for change. Except that there is no Elmo.

If that sounds like some kind of science-fiction starting, well, sorry to disappoint. What I'm trying to say that Elmo is actually a role played by many people. You see, in the town of Miner, jobs are scarce and the fathers don't have enough money. So they take turns being 'Elmo' to try and get some cash. Of course, they keep this a secret from their wives and kids.

Ben Skate, is one of the most respected men in town. And of course, he's also one of those playing Elmo. He's also the most loving, generous and God-fearing person you can meet. Seriously, I don't think he actually does anything bad. It would be annoying in most cases, but since he's struggling against joblessness and poverty, I ignored the too-much-perfection stuff most of the time.

The other protagonist of the book is Sam Skate, Ben's son. Sam is an all-round nice guy and a good baseball player, but when he finds out about his dad's secret life, he decides to do all that he can to help. The only part of his character that jarred with me was how he decided to get back at this guy that hurt him (while he was Elmo). It was a move calculated to cause physical injury while looking like an accident and made it seem as though Sam is not really a good guy, just conditioned to behave like one. The fact that the rest of the men were encouraging him to do so made me wonder what kind of people the men of the town really were.

But, if I were to ignore that, this is a heart-warming story about how a small town takes care of itself during an economic crisis.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book as part of the VirtualBookworm Blog tours in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Singapore Lover by Judy Chapman

It seems like this year, books set in Singapore have finally started to become popular. And I'm not talking locally published books. First there was Crazy Rich Asians (read my review here), and now, My Singapore Lover, which, to be honest, I requested because of the word Singapore.

Sadly, it seems like my search for an awesome book set in Singapore and published to a worldwide audience is not over. I didn't actually like this book very much.

Why? You ask. For one thing, the speech. At least for Crazy Rich Asians, the Singaporeans talk like Singaporeans. Here, the Singaporeans all sound too.... strange. I know that Sara isn't a Singaporean, but still, you'd think that the book could afford to put in Singlish now and then.

Another thing would be that  I didn't like Sara. I think I liked her less than Rachel Chu, the protagonist of Crazy Rich Asians. At least Rachel was a sufficiently empty character that I could enjoy the setting. Here, the book was full of Rachel's voice, which was just whiny to me. Not so much of a learning journey, but just her whining until she decides to put on her big-girl clothes. I'm serious. She doesn't realise anything, she's running and she knows it. And unfortunately, she wasn't a sympathetic enough character for me to root for her.

The third, and last thing, would be the inaccuracies in the book. It's not that much, but they appear mostly in the beginning, which prevented me from liking the book. You can skip the list (actually, I'm just three points, not all that caught my eye) if you want:

1. A character 'slices fried carrot cake.' The only type of carrot cake that you can slice would be the baked one. If you can slice this:
Picture from Wikipedia Commons
Then I sincerely congratulate you. In all my years eating it, I've either picked it up directly with chopsticks or with a fork - it's already in little pieces, why would I need to slice it?

2. "Crystal Jade is situated on the fifth floor of Paragon Shopping Centre and is one of Singapore's finest establishments for chilli crab, a local seafood dish." While I have eaten at Paragon's Crystal Jade a few times (there are a few outlets by the way), and it is a nice, though extremely expensive place, I'd hesitate to say that it's known for Chilli Crab. If you ask me where the best Chilli Crab is found, I'll probably say something like Jumbo Seafood restaurant. Not Crystal Jade, which for me, is more for when you want a high class Chinese dinner. 

3. "It does not take me long to discover that infidelity is not as forbidden here as in other countries." Please, just last week or so we banned Ashley Madison, the adultery website. The government banned it as a symbolic stand on where our societal values are (they know you can always use a VPN to get around it), and because many many many Singaporeans made a huge fuss. Considering that the book was set in 2005 (the 'Year of the Rooster'), I'd have thought that we were, if anything, more conservative then.

The only saving grace of this book is that every now and then, it describes a part of Singapore in a beautiful way. Like the migrant workers, or parts of Chinatown and Little India, those bits of prose were what stood out to me. 

Which means that I would have liked the book a lot more if they just kept those descriptions of Singapore and added photos, making it a travel guide. 

I wish I did like this book. After all, I'd love for Singapore to be the setting for many books. But unfortunately, the occasional gems in the prose was not enough to save the annoying characters and the inaccuracies. 

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this galley from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Entanglement by Dan Rix (Oops! I Read A Book Again Blog Tours)

You can find the tour schedule here

You know, despite the fact that I didn't like the main characters very much, Entanglement was an awesome book (I guess it's proof that liking a book and liking the characters are two different things). I think I finished it in about two hours, thanks to a sudden rush of spare time (I got to school too early) and the fact that the book was gripping (hey, I had the distraction of the internet, so this is a relevant fact :p)

Entanglement introduces the concept of halves. Halves are people who are born at the exact same time and are basically soulmates. But for Aaron, he's not too excited. And unlike what the blurb says, I don't think it's because he thinks the theory is crap. I think it's because he has a neurological problem that means that even if he does meet his half, he won't recognise her (halves have a special, almost telepathic conversation).

But then, he meets Amber, a girl who might be his half. The only thing is, there's another guy called Clive who's supposed to be Amber's half (even though they're not 18 yet - 18 is the age you meet your half). But there's this really strong chemistry between them, and Aaron's attraction (and then love) for Amber puts both of them in danger.

Personally, I loved this concept of halves. Add in a mysterious (possible evil) secret society and you have me hooked. I read this book mostly for the world-building, which is why my complain is that I need more on this brotherhood! If there was a way the history and structure could be introduced into the book, I would have been over the moon.

The characters? Well.... I quite liked Aaron (the book is from his POV after all), but Amber, well, she seemed extremely antagonistic. I wasn't even sure if she liked Aaron or was just using him to annoy Clive until the later half of the book. But I have to admit, the choices she made at the end really earned my respect. I think that while I won't be squealing over these characters any time soon, they do have my respect.

All in all, this is an excellent book. I'd highly recommend it if you love dystopian fiction.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book as part of the Oops! I Read A Book Again blog tours in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

I have seen reviews that describe Bellman and Black as a cerebral ghost story. Whether it is a ghost story or not (I wasn't actually that scared), I'm not sure. As with most of my feelings towards this book. I don't know if I like it or if I don't.

Bellman and Black follows William Bellman, a poor boy who makes his way to the top. But at his very peak, people around him start to die, and as the reader, we know it has something to do with the Rook he killed in the first chapter. But William doesn't know that, and when he meets the mysterious Mr. Black, he imagines that he has gone into a partnership with him, thus creating Bellman and Black.

What I liked about the story was the build-up. William Bellman is the boy that made good, who was the envy of the village. And after he meets Black, he becomes a changed man - totally working towards the success of Bellman and Black. You could almost say he's possessed.

But, what let me down was the way it ended. It was totally anti-climatic. I expected something scarier, and a proper explanation for the actions of Mr. Black, but it was a let-down for me. I suppose that's why I'm so ambivalent about the book.

In short, I liked this book, but after all the time I invested in reading it, the ending was a let-down for me.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Grimm Legacy by Janna Jennings

I doubt this is a spoiler since I guess this was happening from the title (the characters, on the other hand, did not), but if you don't want to know, skip this paragraph. But anyway, if you've heard of the web-cartoon series Ever After High, then odds are you won't be unfamiliar with the idea of fairy-tale characters having children.

A Grimm Legacy follows Andi, Quinn, Frederick and Dylan as they're pulled into a land called Elorium. They all come from different places and different families, but they soon discover that they have something in common. Realising that Elorium is a land filled with fairy-tales, they have to survive using their wits and Andi's grandmother's items (a fairy tale book, a cloak, a pair of slippers).

Personally, I loved this book! The book goes through quite a few fairytales, and it was interesting to see what happened after each story ended. For example, in the tale of Jorinda and Joringel, the witch catches Jorinda many many times. But Jorinda refuses to live in fear of the witch, and takes it as a part of her life.

Another thing that I loved was the character of Quinn. Quinn is Indian, so she brought with her a really rich heritage. She's also a proper main character, not the token person of colour. She gets her own fairytale and her own romance. The only thing that would make it better if there were a few more characters like Quinn.

Oh, but when I say 'main character', I mean 'in the party of four that was pulled into Elorium'. If I had to pick only one main character, I would say it was Andi. Because she was the one who brought items in, she's the one that gets them out. So there's a good part of the story that focuses on her and her fairytale. But I would say that Dylan, Quinn and Frederick get enough space of their own.

If you're looking for a modern day fairytale involving descendants of the original characters, look no further!

And if you haven't watched Ever After High, you totally should.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from the publishers in exchange for a free and honest review.

Note: I read this book for the fairytales retold reading challenge.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien

Today's teaser comes from a book I bought at the start of summer but just started reading - The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien. It's the prequel of the prequel (it's way way before even The Hobbit) and I can't wait to read it!

Here come the teaser:

"But at evening Turin looked west into the sunset, as the sun rode down red into the hazes above the far distant coasts, and the Vale of Narog lay deep in the shadows between.  
So began the abiding of Turin son of Hurin in the halls of Mim, in Bar-en-Danwedh, the House of Ransom." (page 136)
What is your teaser this week?

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading. To participate, simple share your two sentence teaser with the title and author of the book.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Name Used To Be Muhammad by Tito Momen

This may be a book about conversion, but the thing that struck me the most was that it was really a book about the need for religious tolerance.

You see, Tito Momen (formerly Muhammad Momen) was raised under a very harsh interpretation of Islam. He was even sent to be educated at a very radical school that hated America and Israel and preached the Jihad of war. So when he converted to Mormonism, he not only lost his family and the girl he loved, he was also thrown into jail for about 15 years.

I think this is a book that's going to touch anyone who reads it. Tito is engaging, and he doesn't blame anyone. While he has converted away from Islam, he doesn't disparage the religion at all. He does speak against extremism, but I think that is something you should speak against.

Now, I don't believe in either Islam or Mormonism (Mormonism theology is not compatible with Christianity), so this isn't a "one religion is better than the other" post. What I want everyone to take away is that we need freedom of religion.

What freedom of religion means to me is the ability to convert from one religion to another freely. Even if we think that person is damning himself to hell, or if their family wants to disown them, well, I suppose we cannot make disownership illegal. But what governments should do is to allow their citizens to change religions freely. After all, what is the good of staying a nominal __[insert name here]___. Why not let them choose? After all, one great gift we all have is free will, and we can choose which path to take.

And that's why I'm glad to be from Singapore, where we can choose what we want to believe in. You can choose to be a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Taoist or even an Atheist. If you want to convert between any religion, that's legal too - well, your family might not be happy, but you definitely won't get arrested. It's something that I learnt to treasure from reading this book.

If you ever need a reminder about the need for freedom of religion, just read this book. It'll convince you very quickly how precious this freedom is.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Jack: The Tale of Frost by Tony Bertauski

I think I love this book even more than the original! If you don't remember, last year I reviewed Claus: Legend of the Fat Man. It was a good book, so when Tony asked me if I would review the sequel, I said yes immediately!

While this book is a sequel, you could probably read it as a standalone. It definitely makes more sense (especially when it comes to character motivations) if you know what went on in the first book, but since there are new characters and new protagonists, you can still figure out what's going on.

Jack: The Tale of Frost stars not Jack (not really), but Sula, a girl who has some sort of connection with the Frost plantation. This year, she starts to work for Mr. Frost, who tells her that his name is not Jack. She also meets Joe, a boy working at the plantation that she feels an instantaneous connection with.

At the same time, we as the reader find out that Mr Frost is actually Pawn, Jack's only friend. He's been forced to bring Jack back to life via a clone and he's very close to succeeding. And when he does, humanity can say goodbye to the earth. But, one of the Jacks escaped and is living as a very strange homeless person (since he only has 10% of his memories).

For me, my favourite character turned out to be Jack. This is pretty ironic since he's the villain of the first book. But Jack as a partially amnesic, very strange homeless person trying to find Santa Claus (because he knows that he's from the North Pole, but not why he's in South Carolina), Jack is surprisingly sympathetic. I think he's given the chance to learn and to develop more in this book, and it was a very good choice. Plus, with only 10% of his memories, more of Jack's character comes out - he's still mean, but he's also lonely and the need for acceptance is amplified.

Sula and Joe are both interesting characters, and I like how their backstory tied into the plot of the book. I don't think I can say too much without giving away spoilers, so I shan't.

If you read the first book and liked it, you should definitely read this book. And if you're looking for a Christmas story that's different from most, this is the book for you too!

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The $7.50 Bunny that Changed The World by Gretta Parker

If you love Bunnies, you will love this book.

I love all cute and adorable animals, so I love this book. Also, I have a few people in my stream who adore bunnies so, well, it rubs off.

This very short book is about Flopsy, the facebook famous bunny. Unfortunately, since I've never really followed Facebook famous people/animals, I have no idea if it's true. But, from the pictures, he is a really really adorable bunny.

So, to sum it up, this book is about Flopsy's life, from his point of view. Interspersed are a lot of pictures of Flopsy.

Did I enjoy this book? Of course! Cute animal pictures forever! But I would think that this isn't really a book to read, it's a book you buy so that you can coo over the pictures of adorable bunnies with long fluffy fur.

Excuse me, I need to go and convince myself that I'm incapable of taking care of pets.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Blue Between by Patricia Little

It took me some time and effort (I had to figure out how to download a kindle book) to read this, but it's worth it!

The Blue Between talks about the titular mysterious blue between, a substance/dimension that you can use to teleport from place to place? So is this happening in our world? Well, sort of. This book uses the earth that we know and love and adds in another planet called Alanar. But things on Alanar aren't so rosy - there's persecution of Travelers, the people who can manipulate the blue between.

And that's where Heather Lucas comes in. Ever since her freak lightning accident, she's been mysteriously disappearing to places. Plus with her mom gone and her dad mad at her for 'running away', she has a lot on her mind. But one day, a boy called Alex appears and tells her about Alanar.

So this is the part of the book where all the rebel action happens, and it's done pretty well. I like how they switch between this planet and Alanar. Plus, I like how they integrate different characters pretty seamlessly. Not to give any spoilers, but the psychiatrist/psychologist guy that appears in the beginning will be playing a big role.

The only thing that I didn't really like about this book was that Jenny, one of Heather's friends (supposedly her best friend), disappears after the the first part of the book. I understand that she's supposed to be mad at Heather for not getting 'over it', but I thought that as a friend, she would be involved more.

All in all, this is an excellent book! If you like fantasy books with just a dash of earth, you should definitely give this a read.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Romance of Religion by Dwight Longenecker

Do you know what reading this book reminded me of? It was G.K Chesterton. I'm not kidding. But since the author is also a Catholic, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised.

While I don't agree with Catholic theology, this book is thankfully devoid of that. Instead, it's a book on the need for romance (specifically, the romance that religion brings) in this world.

The book wanders through the reason why we need romance (and why it is real), the heroics and fights (the fight for Life, Beauty and Love), stories and romance, and finally, the nature of this romance and how it relates to Christianity.

I'll be honest, I love this book because of the language. In fact, I marked out a lot of stuff. Take a look at a few of these quotes:

Talking about ideas:

"Like Achilles, the hero who forgot his heel, or like Icarus who, flying close to the sun, forgot that his wings were made of wax, we should be wary when triumphant ideas seem unassailable, for then there is all the more reason to predict their downfall."

On Madness:

"Because we are limited in our knowledge, even the sanest of us are slightly insane. Our limitations are a kind of madness, and we can only choose to deny we are mad, and so descend into a dark spiral of total insanity, or accept we are mad and embark on a quest to regain our true and wholesome sanity"

On Ideologies:

"Idealogues attempt to create heaven here on earth, and their ideologies, like all false gods, demand far more than they deliver, and what they demand is life itself. ... ... This is because ideologies live for an idea - they do not live for life - and any ideology that does not put put life first will invariable put it last"

If these quotes all seem so disparate, well, just know that they're tied up with the idea of romance and the romantic hero.

Even though I have a lot of other books to read and review, I have a feeling that I'll be re-reading this book soon - It's worth another read.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Mystery of the Darkstone by Val Rutt

If you remember, I posted a review of the previous book - The Race for the Lost Keystone a while back. You know, the one where I made a huge fuss, seeing as I've been looking for this book for oh, just a few years. And well, I think I made a (albeit smaller) fuss over this book, since it got its own Teaser Tuesday and all.

Thankfully, this book did not disappoint me.

The Mystery of the Darkstone follows Phil and Kate on more adventures. Well, to be specific, it follows Phil (since after all, a large part of the book focuses on him). This time, Phil is at a boarding school for troubled boys - the problem is that almost all the other boys are too well-behaved. Alone and without his heartstone (his friend Mark took it from him), he has to find a way to fix what's going on.

For a fairly short book it really packed a punch! All the characters from the last book, plus a few more made an appearance. The only difference is that this time, Great-Aunt Elizabeth doesn't play that big a role (her biggest role comes at the end of the book). The book is really more about Phil and how he is learning to cope on his own.

Of course, he doesn't see it that way. The beauty of the book is the Phil doesn't know he's growing - he's just doing what he's supposed to do. In fact, I only realised at the end how much he's changed since the first book. It's really satisfying to watch a character grow along with the books.

Another thing that I liked about the book is that it used time travel. It was introduced in book one, but that wasn't a plot point. Here, it's crucial to the book. If the characters didn't use time travel, the book would have been drastically different. This may sound like a cheap plot trip, but it didn't really feel like one. The only thing I would have liked was if there was more hints of time travel earlier in the book.

I really really wish that the author had continued this series. I think as Phil and Kate grow, the adventures would have gotten better and better. Plus, the ending is totally a cliffhanger! I need to know what happens to the evil ___[redacted to prevent spoilers]___

If you can get a chance, read this book!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Long Reads #22

After so long! I'm back with another Long Reads post! It's book-themed and I hope you enjoy it!

'Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride': or WTF YAlitchat by April (Good Books & Wine)- This is really just a blogpost/rant, but it's awesome! I may be a small blogger without much influence, but I know there are blogs whose reviews can sell books. And as a reader that does buy book, bloggers do play a part - if it's a blogger I admire and that I've agreed with before, I tend to give more weight to their reviews. Even if it's a blogger with whom I differ (in terms of taste), their review matters too - sometimes, I'll like something someone else doesn't and vice versa.

Book Bloggers Are People, Too by Amanda Hocking - This is a response to the above post, and it's by an author that support book bloggers. If you weren't convinced by April, you should be convinced by an author right? She even tells you straight out that book bloggers do sell books.

Ten Questions on Jane Austen by John Mullan - You know, I think I read a book like this before. And after a bit of searching, I realised that I've reviewed the book from which this came before: What Matters In Jane Austen by John Mullan. So if you don't know about this book, you could read my review ^, read the article and then buy the book ;D

Diary: Fanfic by Katherine Arcement - I used to read a lot of fanfic. I still do actually, and contrary to the author's experience, not all of it is erotica. I remember reading one moving Teen Titans fanfic about Bulimia, and well, now I read those heart-warming (mafia)family fics for KHR. The article is an interesting look at the world of fanfiction - and it's something that I think does not get enough credit.

I actually have more book-related essays that I haven't read, but I think I'll save that for a later post.

If you need the links to any of these essays (none of them are behind a firewall), let me know!

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 has started!

Hey all! Instead of your usual book review, I'd like to announce that today marks the start of NaNoWriMo! (National Novel Writing Month!). Like last year, I will be participating this year, and in honour of NaNoWriMo, my Google+ friends and I have come up with a free magazine (yes, FREE) for you!

It's all about plot bunnies and definitely worth your read.

You can get it for free here at Smashwords

And like last year, I'll be posting updates to NaNoWriMo at my personal blog, With Love from Japan, Eustacia. But no fear, I'll be linking these posts to this blog too, at the NaNoWriMo page!